Four 90-year-olds have made State Street their home in Adrian

ADRIAN – The concept of community and neighbors helping neighbors could not be better exemplified than a stretch of State Street near Berry Park and Clay and Union streets.

It’s on this stretch of State Street, part of the Dennis-State Streets residential historic district, that four – recently five – 90-year-old residents still call the neighborhood home and they wouldn’t have it other path.

Ask Leo Drake, 95.

“We know each other, and in case we need anything, all you have to do is ask your neighbor and he will help you,” he said. “That’s what I love about the neighborhood. We all know each other and we all get along very well. It was a good neighborhood.

Drake and his late wife, Mardelle, moved into their State Street home in 1952. Since then, Drake admitted, “Adrian has changed a bit.”

The Drakes moved to State Street from Helme Avenue for two reasons: because of their growing family and the need for a larger home, and because the family did not want to be too far from the Adrian School buildings.

Drake said he and the previous owner of his current home swapped homes, with Drake adding $500 as part of the home swap.

“I think I gave $500 to business houses and that’s when the other kids were born here,” he said.

It was $500 well invested, to say the least. The Drakes raised six children who are now displaced in parts of the United States. A seventh child died in infancy.

Leo Drake, 95, right, has lived in a State Street home in Adrian since he and his late wife, Mardelle, moved from Helme Avenue in 1952. In August, the Drake family will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the lives in his State Street home.  Leo was from Hudson and was only 5 or 6 years old when his family came to Adrian.  He is pictured with one of his youngest daughters, Susan Mullinix.

Drake said he loved being able to sit on his screened porch on a sunny day to just “watch people come and go.” A screened porch was another feature of the home that factored into the decision to move to State Street.

In August, the Drake family will celebrate the 70th anniversary of life at their State Street home. Leo was from Hudson and was only 5 or 6 years old when his family came to Adrian.

“I like Adrien. Everything went well,” he said. “I like the people around me and we get along pretty well for a neighborhood. We have no problem with anyone The main thing, you know, about being in a good neighborhood is that everyone gets along.

Eugene Eldredge

There are still five 90-year-old residents on State Street today, but Eugene Eldredge, 95, died in September after a brief illness. Eldredge, according to his obituary, was employed at Tecumseh Products for most of his professional career, retiring in 1987. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy and served aboard the USS North Carolina in Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan.

“I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else”

With the weather improving and summer approaching, longtime resident of Adrian Hazel Jacobs, 92, said she was looking forward to getting back outside and tending to her garden. flowers where she grows over 100 roses around her property every year.

Jacobs and her husband, Richard “Dick”, who died in February 2018, have called Maple City their home since 1967. They operated Jacobs Flying Service from 1958 to 1995 and were longtime stewards of Lenawee County Airport. , obtaining grants for additions and improvements throughout the airport as well as improvements on the runways. The seven children Richard and Hazel raised while running a flight instruction and charter business are also part of the “pilot family,” Hazel said. Two of them are still licensed pilots today.

“All of our children were pilots at some point, and four of them were active in aviation until retirement,” Hazel said. “Our kids are all college educated, and a few of them have master’s degrees.”

Their children are Michael, Mark, Marieta, Maxine, Matthew, Mick and Melissa. There are also 12 grandchildren.

In 2009, on his 80th birthday, Richard was surprised at the airport with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, given by the Federal Aviation Administration to pilots with at least 50 years of safe commercial flight who have contributed to the aviation profession. When Hazel and Richard started dating, one of their first dates, she said, was in Richard’s sweater.

Hazel also received this same award from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013. She came out of retirement in 2001 to return as Lenawee County Airport Manager and oversaw the completion of a project to expand the runway from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet.

Leo Drake, 95, and Hazel Jacobs, 92, both residents of State Street in Adrian for many years, share a Friday afternoon of conservation at Drake's home.  State Street has the unique distinction of being an Adrian neighborhood where four 90-year-old residents still reside and have remained rooted for several years.

Perhaps the main reason the Jacobs moved from their historic home in Tecumseh to another historic home on State Street in Adrian was to operate the airport and flight service, but also to have their children attend the Adrian Catholic Central School. When the Jacobs were settled into their State Street home, they were taken in by families with as many as eight or nine children. You never get bored in the neighborhood, she says.

“Our block is really fascinating,” she said. “Although we’ve seen some people come and go, this is our home – it’s too big for me, of course – but it holds a lot of special memories.”

The Jacobs have always valued old and historic homes, Hazel said.

“We just love Adrian. We loved our home and we love the neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” she said. “I love experiencing Michigan seasons. We love Adrien. We’ve been at the airport for 38 years. This is my home.

“Some of the nicest people you will ever meet”

Wilson “Bill” and Norma Wood, both approaching their mid-90s, are the other nonagenarians on State Street.

Their daughter Patty Gray and her husband, Bob Gray, live with them so they can be cared for a little closer. Bill and Norma have been married for nearly 75 years and just celebrated their wedding anniversary on Saturday. They married in Greenville, Pennsylvania. However, recent health issues have kept Bill and Norma at home.

“It gets a lot harder to move around and hear as you get older in your 90s,” Patty said.

Bill served as acting pastor at Adrian’s First Presbyterian Church for at least two years after he and Norma moved back to Adrian to be closer to their family. He went to seminary school in Chicago in the late 1950s, early 1960s.

“They have a lot of friends here at Adrian. They like to play bridge and they still play bridge sometimes,” Patty said. “They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and they have both traveled extensively in the United States and Europe.”

Bill and Norma Wood, middle row left, are seated next to their daughter Patty Gray and her husband, Bob Gray, surrounded by several other family members, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  The Woods are part of a unique demographic of State Street residents in Adrian as two of four 90-year-old residents who still call the neighborhood home after living there for many years.

The Woods, who has five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, has been the host family for a total of 23 exchange students from Europe, Japan and South America. They have been involved with many clubs and organizations in Adrian.

Bill is also a WWII veteran and was deployed to Japan.

Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and every occasion in between have been celebrated on State Street over the years, Patty said.

“State Street is a wonderful neighborhood,” she said. “I think we all love historic homes and living in historic homes. Above all, the people in this neighborhood are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Ultimately what brought a lot of people to this side of Adrian, according to 30-year State Street resident Pat Cooper, was the job market, especially factory work on the east side of Adrian.

“These jobs are becoming more and more scarce,” Cooper said, “and the other sad thing is that we’re slowing down the loss of some residents.”

However, the residents who are still there are rooted in their neighborhood and rooted in Adrian.

“It’s nice to know you have people you can rely on who care about you and want to help you,” Drake’s daughter Susan Mullinix said. “Any kind of incident that happens in the neighborhood, people are there – not to be nosy – but to be helpful. You don’t always see that in other communities. They were really lucky to have great neighbors.

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